Spice Up School Days

The Sentinel-Record - - BUSINESS DIRECTORY -

Busy school days de­mand meals that can match the pace of life. A Mex­i­can-themed meal is a sure way to keep things fes­tive and lively around the fam­ily din­ner ta­ble.

Not only does a meal cen­tered on Mex­i­can-style foods let you spice up your menu, it also al­lows for plenty of per­son­al­iza­tion so even the pick­i­est of palates can be sat­is­fied. That means less time for prepa­ra­tion and more time spent to­gether.

Put a fresh twist on your next school-night fi­esta with these ideas: An eth­ni­cally-in­spired meal is a great op­por­tu­nity to en­cour­age kids to try out new fla­vors and ex­per­i­ment with foods they wouldn’t nor­mally eat. Sam­ple vari­a­tions of clas­sic sal­sas, in­cor­po­rate sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents like ji­cama and diced sweet pep­pers to freshen up your dishes or put a spicy spin on a clas­sic Ital­ian fa­vorite by cre­at­ing Mex­i­can-in­spired stuffed shells.

Get cre­ative with pro­teins. Chicken and beef are com­mon op­tions, but heart-healthy fish and shrimp are also great can­di­dates for a Mex­i­canstyle meal. Pork is an­other good choice for many Mex­i­can dishes, and beans pro­vide an ex­cel­lent source of added pro­tein, along with some fla­vor va­ri­ety.

Mex-up your taco night. Try an al­ter­na­tive to the tra­di­tional corn shell with an op­tion like Ortega Good Grains Taco Shells, crafted with ar­ti­sanal blends of real corn, unique grains and in­gre­di­ents baked into each shell. They’re made with whole ker­nel corn, giv­ing them an au­then­tic taste and a dis­tinc­tive fla­vor, aroma and tex­ture.

Keep things kid-friendly and fun by fo­cus­ing on fin­ger foods. A large taco can be dif­fi­cult for little hands to han­dle, but a street taco por­tion, a chimichanga or even na­chos are more hands-on.

Look for fun top­pings that add an ex­tra crunch. For ex­am­ple, new Ortega Crispy Taco Top­pers, lightly breaded slices of real jalapeno or onion, pro­vide a bold kick and are the per­fect fin­ish­ing touch for tacos, sal­ads and even Mex­i­can-style burg­ers.

Don’t for­get dessert. No meal is com­plete without a sweet treat, such as a churro, flan, em­panada or sopapilla. Many of these fa­vorites can be pre­pared ahead of time so you can sim­ply cook and serve for a per­fect end­ing to your fam­ily fi­esta.

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